Bellaria means ‘sweets, dainties’, and in these hard times Classics for All will try to lighten the mood and put a spring in the step by posting delicious extracts from ancient literature, the original text followed by a translation or translations, and very occasionally with explanatory notes.

Bellaria 16

Bellaria XX

13 August

It would be unfair to Martial to give the impression that his epigrams are all cynicism, sarcasm and outright bile. It is clear he put considerable effort into ensuring that each of his books demonstrated a huge variety of subjects, styles and moods.

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Bellaria 19

Bellaria XIX

06 August

Martial mentions nearly fifty jobs of one sort or another – from actors, advocates, architects and astrologers through executioners and gladiators to teachers, snake-keepers and undertakers…

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Bellaria 18

Bellaria XVIII

30 July

Martial is famous for his filthy poems. Some have a genial behind-the-bike-sheds feel to them

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Bellaria 17

Bellaria XVII

23 July

Apologies in advance for the doggerel (per)versions. Prose translations of Martial don’t do it for me.

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Bellaria 16

Bellaria XVI

16 July

We shall now wake from the dreams of Artemidorus and turn our attention to the rapier wit of Rome’s most scabrous poet – none other than Martial.

To judge from his poetry (always a dodgy business with a poet): Marcus Valerius Martialis was a Spaniard with a good Roman name, like his parents Fronto and Flacilla (5.34). So presumably the family had at some stage in the past held office in the municipium where they lived (Augusta Bibilis, on a hill near modern Catalayud, 4.55) and as a result been given Roman citizenship.

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Bellaria 15

Bellaria XV

09 July

It is remarkable that the world of the Roman Empire rarely features in Artemidorus. Only two emperors – Hadrian and Antoninus Pius – are mentioned, and where emperors feature at all it is mostly as symbols and images.

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Bellaria 14

Bellaria XIV

02 July

Life in the ancient world was not sacrosanct, with little sympathy for the ill, crippled or mentally deficient. In this respect, it was a very unforgiving world.

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Bellaria 13

Bellaria XIII

25 June

For Artemidorus there was much more to a dream than its actual subject…

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Bellaria 12

Bellaria XII

18 June

Here Artemidorus describes the subjects of the dreams discussed in the first two of his (eventually) five books.

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Bellaria 11

Bellaria XI

4 June

This is the last of the extracts from Tom Holland’s first drafts of his forthcoming translation for Penguin. Classics for All is extremely grateful to Tom for allowing our supporters to peep into this work in progress and much looks forward to the finished article (summer 2021).

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Bellaria 10

Bellaria X

4 June

This is the last of the extracts from Tom Holland’s first drafts of his forthcoming translation for Penguin. Classics for All is extremely grateful to Tom for allowing our supporters to peep into this work in progress and much looks forward to the finished article (summer 2021).

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Bellaria 9

Bellaria IX

28 May

Suetonius makes it clear that one important criterion of the ‘good emperor’ was the care he lavished on the city and people Rome, and another the moderation he exemplified in his own personal life. Augustus came out top in both…

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Bellaria 8

Belaria VIII

21 May

In this passage Suetonius, who had full access to the imperial library and its archives, quotes directly from three of Augustus’s letters on the matter of Claudius to his wife Livia. While Augustus is absolutely frank about the practical problem that Claudius (aged 21 at the time) presents for the imperial family, there is a touching humanity about his feelings for his great nephew.

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Bellaria 7

Bellaria VII

14 May

Suetonius, who wrote widely on literary and grammatical topics, here summaries his findings from examining Augustus’ formal and informal literary style, handwriting and spelling.

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Bellaria 6

Bellaria VI

7 May

Horace declared that books combining utile dulci won everyone’s vote (punctum). Since pleasure is the most useful thing in the world, that is no surprise, but Horace was clearly distinguishing the two. So in this case, ‘useful to whom?’ This run of Bellaria answers as follows: the historian Tom Holland.

Tom is currently translating Suetonius’ de vita Caesarum for Penguin Classics. Like Suetonius, he is thoroughly in favour of Classics for All, and would be delighted if CfA were to run the rule over his first draft (he is currently up to Vespasian). So the next five Bellaria will feature scenes from Suetonius in Tom’s translation. One of his stated aims is to keep as close as possible to Suetonius’ word-order.

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Bellaria 5

Bellaria V

30 April

Ausonius’ wife was Sabina. They had three children. Iuvenis and puella (l. 4) are the language of love-poetry. Ausonius envisages them growing old together, although his hopes of a long marriage were not fulfilled.

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Bellaria 4

Bellaria IV

23 April

Here is a magnificent single stanza poem from Petronius’ Satyricon, which is not what it seems.

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Bellaria 3

Bellaria III

16 April

Here Propertius (c. 50-15 BC), in a sort of post-coital haze, moves from monologue to dialogue and back again, shifting between past and present, hope and desire, as he recalls and reflects on a night of love-making.

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Bellaria 2

Bellaria II

9 April

Auberon Waugh, then editor of Literary Review, invented the now famous annual ‘Bad Sex’ Award ‘to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel’.

Given that C-19 means we are all apparently doomed, it is the socially responsible thing to encourage the population’s philoprogenitive urges. Classics for All’s series of Bellaria will therefore start with five scenes which would (probably) have won an ancient ‘Good Sex’ award…

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Zeus & Hera

Bellaria I

Auberon Waugh, then editor of Literary Review, invented the now famous annual ‘Bad Sex’ Award ‘to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel’.

Given that C-19 means we are all apparently doomed, it is the socially responsible thing to encourage the population’s philoprogenitive urges. Classics for All’s series of Bellaria will therefore start with five scenes which would (probably) have won an ancient ‘Good Sex’ award…

Read here

Bellaria Complete Series

Bellaria Complete Series

All current instalments of Bellaria in one document.

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